14-year-old Receives Top Young Scientist Award for Inventing Cancer-Treating Soap
BY: Michelle Liew
A talented young scientist, Heman Beleke, achieved a remarkable feat at the age of 14 by winning a prestigious award for creating a cancer-treating soap.
Beleke, a ninth grader from Annandale, Virginia, participated in the renowned 3M Young Scientist Challenge while attending Frost Middle School. In just eight months, he conceived the idea for the soap and developed a basic prototype. His goal is to establish a non-profit organization to distribute the soap to those in need.
Unlike typical teenagers spending their time on TikTok, Beleke has been channeling his efforts into meaningful scientific innovation.
The soap developed to treat melanoma, referred to as M.T.S by its creator Heman, contains a blend of salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and tretinoin. According to Heman, these are keratolytic agents that gradually activate dendritic cells, which play a role in skin protection and enhancing immune responses. Remarkably, the production cost for each bar of this soap is only 50 cents.
In recognition of his achievement, Heman received a $25,000 research grant along with his win. He expressed his disbelief at the news, stating that the most challenging part of his journey was crafting the initial prototype. Despite his groundbreaking work in creating the soap, Heman's true aspiration is to become an electrical engineer. He shared his vision for the next 15 years on the Young Scientist Lab website, highlighting his ambition to lead a team of professionals in developing innovative electrical systems that will shape the future of technology.
Additionally, Heman expressed his desire for a fulfilling personal life and a commitment to giving back to the community by mentoring aspiring engineers and supporting initiatives promoting STEM education. His ultimate goal is to make a positive impact on the world through his work and personal endeavors. If his soap proves effective in helping skin cancer patients, Heman will have achieved just that.
John Banovetz, 3M's executive vice president, chief technology officer, and environmental responsibility advocate, praised Heman and his fellow finalists for their ability to reimagine what is possible. He emphasized the urgent need for scientists and innovators to address the world's significant challenges and congratulated the finalists, expressing anticipation for their future accomplishments.